It was a banner year for the production of TV pilots, but most of the increase didn’t spill over to Los Angeles.
That was the takeaway from the annual survey of TV pilot production by FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit film permitting group.
Thanks to a boom in cable TV production, and cable comedies in particular, the most recent pilot season — stretching from June 1, 2010, through May 31 — was the most productive on record, with 169 pilots produced. Pilots are test episodes or premieres for TV series filmed in advance of screenings for advertisers in May.
At first blush, the recent numbers are positive for L.A., where 87 pilots were produced last season, up from 76 the prior season and the second-highest annual take in Los Angeles since local pilot production peaked in the 2004-05 season, according to the FilmL.A report.
But L.A.'s share of the pilot pie continues to shrink. The region captured 51% of all pilot production last season, compared with 58% the prior season and down from 82% six years ago.
FilmL.A. officials said the trend reflects ongoing competition from locales such as Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and New York, where filmmakers are taking their business in droves. Last season, for example, New York drew 17 pilots, up from only 5 the prior season, as the state beefed up its film tax credit program.
Canada drew 18 pilots, virtually the same as in the prior season, and all other locations outside of California netted a combined 47 pilots, up 52% from a season ago.
“While it comes as no surprise that L.A. would net a lot of comedy pilots and shows this year, to be passed over for new drama pilot and series production is troubling,” FilmL.A. President Paul Audley said in the report. “We can thank the local studio base and vast availability of local soundstages as reasons comedies locate in Los Angeles. But until our state regains its competitive edge, the threat of television job and spending losses is quite real.”